Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro

Are films necessary about another world? A world of beauty, a world of immense tragedy – a tragedy not one’s own yet one that we can be compassionate towards? Do films leave a mark because they bring a sense of the extraordinary into our ordinary lives? The cinema of Saeed Akhtar Mirza presents an alternative to the idea of cinema as a doorway to another world. Mirza’s cinema is about people in this world. And its realism is not merely limited to the characters it portrays, but to everything that can be seen and sensed on screen.

Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro takes us to a working class Muslim neighbourhood in Bombay, into the life of a local goon called Salim. Salim is rough, and so is his life. He makes a living by extorting money, and in order to do that, he abuses, makes threats and gets into fights. The world around him is equally unpleasant. The threat of a communal riot always looms on the minds of the community and so does the fear of not having enough money to survive. Yet there are moments of deep companionship between Salim and his two chums, and there are also the innocent uncertainties and tender moments of love between Salim and his beloved, a dancing girl called Mumtaz. Mirza’s film is an unflinchingly honest look at the agonies and joys of a working class existence. Its characters are by no means perfect, or moral, yet one cannot help but relate to their struggles and hope that they find a better life.

salim langde pe mat ro

An entirely distinct aesthetic permeates the film. The music, the visuals, the story all speak of the same sense of ordinariness and everyday aggression that constitutes its characters. The streets of the poorer areas of Bombay, the neon signs at night, the dilapidated buildings and the sentimental, overly commercial music that plays in them, all create an atmosphere that embodies the plain social realities of poverty and people’s inability to break away from it. Fantastic performances by Pavan Malhotra and Neelima Azeem leave behind an impression of tenderness amidst terrible, raw harshness. This is social realism, a cinema for the people and about the people – if not tremendously moving, it is certainly an inventive, unique and memorable experience.

~ by tdcatss on April 22, 2015.

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